Yoga Asanas for Back Pain, Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

Chronic Back Pain, is a pain, stiffness, muscle tension localized anywhere from upper back (between the shoulder blades) till the level of the tail bone (Coccyx). The back is divided into upper back pain (shoulder blades) , middle back pain (thoracic), lower back pain (lumbar) or coccydynia (tailbone or sacral pain) based on the segment affected. Neck pain (cervical), which is considered an independent entity, can involve similar processes. The lumbar area is the most common area for pain, as it supports most of the weight in the upper body. Episodes of back pain may be acute, sub-acute, or chronic depending on the duration. Most of the people suffer majorly by low back pain compared to upper back or middle back. It is defined as chronic when it persists for 12 weeks or more. Nonspecific back pain is pain not attributed to any pathological conditions like infections, tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, fracture or any inflammation. Globally, about 40% of people have back pain at some point in their lives, with estimates as high as 80% of people in the developed world. Approximately 9 to 12% of people (632 million) have LBP (Low Back Pain)  at any given point in time, and nearly one quarter (23.2%) report having it at some point over any one-month period. Difficulty most often begins between 20 and 40 years of age. Low back pain is more common among people aged 40–80 years, with the overall number of individuals affected expected to increase as the population ages.


Back Pain Stats:

·       80% of Americans deal with some sort of upper or lower back pain event during their lives

·       31 million people currently suffer from back pain in the United States

·       Back pain is the most common reason for missing work, and the second leading reason for seeing a doctor

·       55% of adults will treat their own back pain

·       70% of adults take anti-inflammatory drugs to treat symptoms of back pain, but only 9% changed diet to relieve

·       49% of adults took painkillers to treat back pain

·       60% of back pain cases relapse on average according to an ESJ study3

·       32% of back pain sufferers use physical rest to improve their condition

·       30% perform back exercises at home to relieve pain, 13% exercise at a gym

·       25% of adults with back pain use heat pads or analgesics for back pain

·       80% of baby boomers used OTC pain medications like Advil for back pain, while only 52% of millennials used this
type of medication


Signs & Symptoms:

·       Muscle ache

·       Shooting or stabbing pain

·       Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking

·       Pain that improves with reclining,resting



·       Muscle or ligament strain

·       Bad sitting/ standing  posture

·       Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments

·       Bulging or ruptured disks

·       Arthritis

·       Scoliosis

·       Osteoporosis


Risk Factors:

·       Age: Backpain is more common as you get older, starting around age 30 or 40.

·       Lack of exercise: Weak, unused muscles in your back and abdomen might lead to back pain.

·       Excess weight: Excess body weight puts extra stress on your back.

·       Diseases: Some types of arthritis and cancer can contribute to back pain.

·       Improper lifting: Using your back instead of your legs can lead to back pain.

·       Psychological conditions: People prone to depression and anxiety appear to have a greater risk of back pain.

·       Smoking: This reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can keep your body from delivering enough nutrients to the disks in your back. Smoking also slows healing.


Yogic Management for Chronic Back Pain: 

Standing Asanas:

·       Ardha Kati Chakarsana

·       Ardha Chakrasana

·      Tadasana 

Supine Asanas:

·       Ardha Pawanmuktasana

·       Purna Pawanmuktasana

·       Setubandhasana 

Prone Asanas:

·       Salambha Bhujangasana

·       Ardha Shalabhasana 

Seated Asanas:

·       Shashankasana

·       Vakrasana

·       Adho Mukhosvanasana

·       Pashcimotanasana 


·       Nadi Shudhi Pranayama

·       Bhrahmari


One must not practise yogasanas at the time of the pain, yogasana do not help in acute pains. During acute pains, one must seek help of pain management. Yogasanas and Pranayamas will definitely help for chronic cases, helping to ease the
stiffness and at the same time stretching and strengthening the back muscles to avoid future episodes of pain.

Precautions: Please avoid postures/ asanas like both leg raises (Utthanasana with both legs), intense postures for abs (Navkasana) and also forward bends (Padhastasana) must be avoided. Alternate way of performing forward bend for back pain individuals, is by keeping the knees slightly bent. This will reduce the efforts on the back muscles and will still give nice stretch to it.

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